In 2014, twenty mergers between two pharmaceutical companies were valued at over $1 billion.
The Federal Reserve has a dual mandate to pursue price stability — interpreted as low, steady inflation — and full employment. As the unemployment rate has fallen, there have been increasing calls for the Fed to begin to raise interest rates so as to ward off undesirable increases in inflation.
The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC), the independent federal body that advises Congress on Medicare issues, has attempted to address some of the problems in the RAC program caused by CMS regulations, through its recommendations, which were discussed at a March 2015 MedPAC meeting, and will be voted on in early April. Some of the proposals would have a positive impact, but others may raise new problems. Below is a brief discussion of the various proposals.
Yesterday the Wall Street Journal ran a compelling story about the Bank of Bird-in-Hand, an Amish country bank, the first new bank since the passage of the Dodd-Frank Act five years ago. One new bank (although regulators are nearing approval of a second). Stunning. The U.S. used to average 100 new banks every year.
Employee wellness programs are an integral part of the health insurance industry today. Because the Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires that most employers provide health insurance for their employees, those employers have a financial interest in ensuring that their employees stay healthy. Employee wellness programs are one way for employers to meet that goal. What should be an easy case of employers paying to keep their employees healthy long-term has turned into a fierce legal battle over the rights of employees with disabilities.
This week an administrative law judge for the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) will begin consideration of whether McDonald’s should be considered the “joint employer” of all McDonalds workers, instead of them being considered the employees of individual franchises.
This week, despite a measure to reduce costs and paperwork, regulators added $229 million in total regulatory costs. There were no rulemakings that monetized benefits. The Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) final fracking rule led the week.
Congress is broken. Gridlock is permanent. A House divided cannot rule. Senate rules are unworkable. There have been a zillion variants of the diagnosis with the same ultimate bottom line: nothing gets done in Washington. Except suddenly exactly the opposite happens.
At exactly the same time that a bipartisan bill is making a great stride forward for Medicare in the House of Representatives, the Senate is poised to vote on a great step backward. Specifically, Senator Jack Reed is offering an amendment to the Senate budget resolution with the purpose of “making prescription drugs more affordable for seniors and for tax-payers by requiring the Secretary of Health and Human Services to negotiate prescription drug costs under the Medicare program.”
On April 1st, a technical provision of Medicare payment policy, referred to as the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR), will result in a payment reduction to physicians of more than 20 percent. Such a dramatic pay cut would have serious implications for doctors’ ability to accept Medicare patients and likely jeopardize senior’s access to care.